Best Most Mysterious Retail Location

Monarch Novelties
1331 14th St. NW
On the same street as upscale furniture stores and a Bang and Olufsen, but worlds apart, there is a storefront window filled with a dusty pile of giant stuffed animals—mostly hippos in jester costumes—in plastic bags. They’re the sort of prizes you’d expect to win for knocking down a stack of milk bottles at a county fair 30 years ago, and they very well may have been in the window since then. Monarch Novelties, easily the strangest retail location in the Logan Circle area, is a relic of a bygone era when toys weren’t anything kids might conceivably want. All of the plush novelties you’ll see on display are charmingly nondescript, as are the party and holiday supplies—no cartoon characters or brand names here. Among the things you’ll find at Monarch, listed neatly on a hand-painted sign on the door: rain bonnets, reunion favors, rubber stamps, and bumper “strips.” Also: a little slice of ungentrified whimsy.